There has been a lot of hand-wringing in some quarters over the release of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) report, specifically with the report’s use of the word genocide. Here’s my take on it: my opinion isn’t really needed right now.
See, I’m a white dude. A white dude that’s lucky enough to get to share my opinion sometimes. But now is not the time for me to speak. It’s the time for me, and people like me, to listen. And hopefully learn.
We are so set up to opine, though. In our super-charged partisan atmosphere — with the help of the echo-chambers of social media — we are almost egged on to weigh in on every issue, regardless if we have researched it, thought about it, let alone lived it.
But on the issue of the MMIWG report, to use the poetic minimalism of the twitterverse, it’s time for people like me to STFU. No white mansplaining is really needed (imho).
I attend a mainstream church and my bulletin begins with a land acknowledgment.
I am reminded every week that all of the City Kawartha Lakes is situated on traditional Michi Saagiig Territory and lands included in the Williams Treaty and Treaty 20.
While it uses slightly different wording, it is a way that my church, as a result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, deals with its legacy of our historical involvement in the residential school system and other issues of systemic racism.
For me, I use that weekly declaration to remind myself that seemingly well-intentioned people can be horribly wrong and on the wrong side of history.
To be sure, such contemplation doesn’t make me a better person, but it does help me think through some rather complicated issues that aren’t just historical but current. These issues speak to the heart of what our country means and what it could be.
The 200th anniversary of Treaty 20 was last year and no local media, including this publication, covered it. Clearly we have to do a better job of thinking about these issues locally, a better job of including other voices. We need to discuss, to include, to learn, to heal, to grow.
But sometimes to do any of that we have to first listen. I know, I know: we all have a right to our opinion. But just maybe that right should come with a responsibility — to first listen to the opinions and lived experience of others.